Sacred Heart rolls, eyes huge rematch

PHILADELPHIA >> Tuesday night, the biggest challenge for Sacred Heart coach Michelle Gatta’s team wasn’t on the court. It was in her players’ heads.

Sacred Heart made quick work of MaST Community Charter, 3-0, at High School of the Future, breezing through the opening round of the PIAA Class A tournament. The task at hand for the Lions was maintaining the momentum they had spent an entire season building, despite their decidedly one-sided match in states.

The District One-champion Lions wasted no time in sending MaST Charter into the offseason, 25-7, 25-14, 25-9, winning a match that required less than 40 minutes to complete.

“We’re doing our best to work on the little things, like serves, tips, and dunks,” said senior Kerri Corcoran, who tallied seven kills and two blocks. “Those are the things that make a difference at this stage of the season.”

With the win, Sacred Heart (17-8) returned to the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. And once again, the Lions will meet District 11 champion Marian Catholic, which ousted them en route to a state championship.

Like her players did in the opening round, Gatta hopes the Lions will keep a level head in a match that undoubtedly will bring a heavy heart. A win would send Sacred Heart to the PIAA semifinal round for only the second time in program history.

“It’s a big thing for us to see Marian Catholic again,” Gatta said. “It’ll be huge. For a program like ours, that’s a big test to face the defending state champion, not to mention the team that knocked us out (of the state playoffs) last year.”

Sacred Heart seniors Lauren Kilroy and Ally Schell, the libero and outside hitter, respectively, had 23 digs apiece. (Earlier this season, both eclipsed the 1,000-dig mark for their careers.) Senior setter Jess McTaggart notched 22 assists, and sophomore middle blocker Juliana Michniak logged a team-best 10 kills and two blocks.

Gatta said she was pleased with her team’s effort … all things considered.

“It was one of those games, you know,” Gatta said. “There were a few slip-ups in the second set, but we got through it. We’ll need to keep doing that to keep moving forward.”

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